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FAQ

What is the difference between LPG und LNG?

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and LNG are often confused with each other. LPG consists chiefly of propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10), and is used mainly in domestic and commercial applications (such as fuel for cars). LPG is liquefied by holding it under high pressure. LNG, by contrast, is a liquid at atmospheric pressure but at a very low temperature (approx. – 162° C). LPG’s specific gravity is also totally different from LNG’s: LPG’s components are heavier than air and the gas does not disperse if it escapes. LNG (natural gas), by contrast, is lighter than air and disperses and rarefies very quickly into a mixture that is no longer flammable.

The storage of LPG is at a high pressure, unlike the storage of LNG LNG which is at low temperature, and thus requires the use of very different equipment (other material properties, thicknesses, insulation) and standards.

How will the LNG be stored?

The LNG will be stored in specially designed full containment tank(s). A full containment tank consists of a metal inner tank and a concrete outer tank. Thermal insulation between the steel inner tank and the concrete outer tank will limit the evaporation of LNG.

What is the environmental impact of LNG?

From the moment the LNG is regasified, the environmental impact is identical to that of natural gas (e.g. fewer CO2 emissions on combustion in comparison with coal). If there is direct environmental exposure, for example through leakage, LNG causes less damage than an oil spill since it will immediately vaporize into the atmosphere.

What is an open terminal concept?

German LNG terminal is an independent operator. This means that players in the gas market can contract throughput capacity in the terminal. They will do so largely under long-term contracts for substantial volumes of gas each year. Off-takers will be energy companies and also producers that sell their own products.

What is the role of an independent terminal operator?

Neither Vopak, Gasunie nor Oiltanking will have a commercial interest in the trade in or sale of LNG or natural gas. As independent companies they will offer their services to anyone wishing to use them. German LNG Terminal will give all customers a fair chance to use the independent LNG terminal by means of an open season procedure.

Is LNG dangerous?

LNG is a colourless, non-flammable liquid. It is not toxic or poisonous and has no odour. It is so cold that it cannot combust. If it evaporates and turns back into a gas, is it like natural gas from a gas cooker; it can only combust with the right air-gas ratio and a source of ignition.

What happens if LNG escapes after all?

LNG will evaporate immediately because it heats up due to its surroundings. It does not mix with water, will not float and cannot be absorbed into the ground. Before it can combust, it must first evaporate and the LNG-air ratio must be just right; i.e. 5-10% of the air must be made up of natural gas. If there is too much or too little natural gas, it is non-flammable. Whether or not this ratio is good depends, among other things, on the weather; if it is windy, natural gas disperses and there will not be a inflamable ratio. Moreover, there must also be a source to ignite it. LNG will never spontaneously combust.

Is LNG safe to use?

Yes, the use of LNG as transport fuel is definitely safe. It is already a long-accepted fuel throughout the world for use in trucks, cars and ships. Industry has built up an excellent safety reputation in the more than 50 years that LNG has been used.

What is the impact of LNG on the environment?

LNG as a fuel will improve the quality of life in this region. (LNG produces no fine dust, no sulphur and lower CO2 emissions).

What happens at an LNG receiving terminal?

LNG arrives at the terminal by ship, is unloaded and stored in tanks, warmed (or regasified) and then delivered to the gas transport network. At this point, its use is identical to that of conventional natural gas. The LNG can be distributed (loaded) by truck and ship as well.

What are the effects if LNG escapes from a ship?

The ships in which LNG is transported have double hulls so that the risk of leakage during a collision is minimal. Should this happen in an extreme condition, and LNG escapes into the water, then the cold liquid will immediately heat up due to the ambient temperature and the warmer water and the resulting gas cloud will rise and disperse. The LNG will not dissolve or mix with water, but disappear as gas because it is lighter than air. A cloud will be visible around the leakage; this is not a gas cloud, but condensing water vapour due to the cold that is released from the LNG. The flammable natural gas has already risen up out of this.

Does LNG contribute to climate objectives?

LNG is liquefied natural gas; it is therefore, like natural gas from the gas network, the cleanest fossil fuel available. When using LNG as fuel in small-scale applications, such as transport or for isolated industry, less CO2 is therefore emitted than with oil products, virtually no nitrogen and fine dust, and it is a Sulphur-free fuel. It is thus an affordable and cleaner alternative to oil products.

How much energy does it take to keep LNG liquid?

Nothing. Once it is liquid, you only need to keep it well insulated. You do not need to cool it further.

How much energy does it take to convert LNG back into a gas for use in the engine of a boat or truck?

It does not take any extra energy. The LNG is converted back into a gas in a heat exchanger. Such a heat exchanger is actually a heating radiator in reverse: the LNG is passed through the radiator (heat exchanger) and, by increasing the surface area, it absorbs heat from the surrounding air via the metal.

How can LNG be used for small-scale applications (LNG distribution)?

LNG can be distributed from the German LNG Terminal to smaller receiving terminals, for example in the Baltic region and the Hamburg port area. LNG can be used:

  • as bunker fuel for sea-going vessels.
  • used as bunker fuel for inland vessels.
  • used as fuel for trucks.
  • by industries which are not connected to the gas network and now often use oil or propane as energy source.

What are the main reasons for starting to use LNG as transport fuel?

  • LNG as a fuel has positive effects on the environment and health. With the combustion of natural gas, a lot less fine dust, nitrogen, sulphur and other emissions are released. The use of LNG instead of oil-based fuels reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20%, SO2 by 100%, NOx by almost 90% and fine dust.
  • Gas-fired engines using LNG are quieter than diesel engines; the difference is so great that trucks running on LNG can be used at night for distribution where trucks are now only allowed during the day to prevent noise nuisance.
  • From 2015, much stricter standards will apply to sulphur emissions in European and American coastal waters. This so-called Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) legislation makes it necessary for newly built ships to order engines which run on LNG.
  • Significant cost savings can be achieved on fuel consumption in ships because 80% of the operational costs of a ship consists of fuel costs. LNG can be a cheaper and is a cleaner fuel.

Is the use of LNG as fuel new?

No; in this respect, Europe is lagging behind Asia, for example. Globally, 15 million cars already run on natural gas; in China and the US, thousands of trucks use LNG. In the Netherlands, we have also seen trucks using LNG in recent years, for example those belonging to Albert Heijn and Vos Logistics; the current total is around 230. At the moment, there are 5 Dutch inland vessels running on LNG with positive results.